US President Donald Trump on Monday offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as he met Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House for the first time, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also asked him to help with the Kashmir issue. Trump said that he is ready to help, if the two countries ask.
"I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago…. And he actually said would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator? I said where? He said Kashmir. Because this has been going on for many-many years," Trump said in response to a question during his meeting with Prime Minister Khan in the Oval Office.
"If I can help, I would love to be a mediator," Trump added.
India has been maintaining that the Kashmir issue was a bilateral one and no third party has any role. Khan welcomed Trump's remarks and said if the US agrees, prayers of more than a billion people will be with him. He was accompanied by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi among others.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by Pakistan-based terrorists, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.
"I think they (Indians) would like to see it resolved. I think you (Khan) would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be a mediator. It should be....we have two incredible countries that are very, very smart with very smart leadership, (and they) can't solve a problem like that. But if you would want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that," Trump said.
"We have a very good relationship with India. I know that your relationship (with India) is strained a little bit, maybe a lot. But we will be talking about India? (it's) a big part of our conversation today and I think maybe we can help intercede and do whatever we have to do. It's something that can be brought back together. We will be talking about India and Afghanistan both," Trump told Khan.
Khan, who was sitting by Trump's side in the Oval Office of the White House, said that he is ready and welcomed such a move by the US.
"Right now, you would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate (on Kashmir)," Khan told Trump.
"The Prime Minister of Pakistan is here to showcase his vision of a 'Naya Pakistan' and to start a new era of bilateral relations. We have come with a narrative of peace and prosperity in the region," Qureshi tweeted soon after Khan's meeting with Trump.
President of United States of America Donald J. Trump welcomes Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House, Washington D.C. USA.— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) July 22, 2019
The beginning of a new era of bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the US.#KhanMeetsTrump #PMIKVisitingUS #PMIKInUSA pic.twitter.com/BjUEwjQ7nT
During the meeting, the American leadership pressed Khan to take "decisive and irreversible" actions against terrorist and militant groups operating from Pakistani soil and facilitate peace talks with the Taliban, sources said.
Nawaz Sharif was the last Pakistani prime minister to visit the US on an official trip in October 2015. Trump, in addition to a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office, will host the visiting delegation over a working lunch at the White House.
The relations between Pakistan and the US have remained tense during Trump's tenure. The US president has publicly said that Pakistan has given us "nothing but lies and deceit" and also suspended security and other assistance for backing terror groups.
(With PTI inputs)